The Houston Dynamo should have kept Wade Barrett as their head coach. That seems to be the sentiment of many fans, and that feeling was expressed on Twitter by both current and former players. I agree with Will Bruin, Sheanon Williams, Stuart Holden, and Geoff Cameron: Barrett did what he could in an unfortunate situation and deserves to be rewarded for it.
While it’s true that the interim coach struggled to get results in the five months he had, it’s also true that he enhanced the Dynamo to the point where other clubs had trouble getting results against them thanks to their organized, defensively-oriented style of play.
The Dynamo created more chances as the season went along while also managing to keep the ball out of their own net. The players knew what was expected of them when they stepped on the field, and to a certain extent, they were able to execute the game plan. There were tactics in place. They found something of an attacking identity. Mauro Manotas emerged from the shadows.
He did what he could with the limited time and resources he had.
Unfortunately for Barrett, the personnel that he had to work with was subpar and arguably the worst in MLS. It’s hard to step into your first managerial job two and a half months into the season with a team that had just spent two years getting destroyed by possibly one of the worst coaches this league has ever seen.
Barrett walked into a roster that had no true finisher. No real chance-creator. Effectively no defensive midfielder. A backline that was mostly over the age of 30. An injured starting goalkeeper.
He walked into a roster that had no elements of a team that could win in this league just a month before a transfer window in what already looked like another lost season. He was tasked with trying to come up with results out of a weak and depleted club that had no foundation, no identity, no consistent lineup, and played in a style that probably wouldn’t work in a U-16 rec league.
What do you do with that?
He didn’t have an answer that would get this team anywhere close to a playoff berth, but I’m not convinced that Roberto Martinez or Jose Mourinho could have done a whole lot better.
It’s impressive that he was able to do what he did with this club. Getting them into a position where they had a first-choice lineup and used a real-life strategy that actually works is an accomplishment.
And it’s not like this team folded completely. The Dynamo stole points late in the season from playoff clubs like Toronto FC, the Seattle Sounders (twice), Sporting KC, Real Salt Lake, and the Colorado Rapids. They came within a Fabian Castillo stoppage-time wonder-goal of qualifying for the US Open Cup semifinals.
Wade Barrett pushed the Dynamo in the right direction, there’s no question about it. He deserved the job.
This is not to say that Wilmer Cabrera is not a good hire. He’s a veteran manager who did well with RGVFC and has experience managing in MLS. But Barrett did everything he could do to get this job, and the front-office didn’t give it to him. Something tells me he’ll have a permanent head coaching gig before too long.